What is Brady material?
In Brady v. Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that the prosecution must turn over any evidence favorable to the defendant. Therefore, Brady material is evidence discovered in prosecution or otherwise in the State’s possession that is favorable to the defense but is withheld from them.
Someone is charged with murder, and an officer discovers that the footprints at the crime scene are not the same size as the defendants. Evidence that the footprints do not match the defendant would aid the defense’s case. If the State does not disclose measurements or photos of the footprints, it’s a Brady violation.
Why is this important?
All accused deserve and are guaranteed a fair trial and due process. Anyone accused of a crime must have any and all favorable evidence the State possesses. When a Brady violation occurs, the defendant’s rights to due process under the Constitution are also violated.
Furthermore, the prosecution’s job is to seek justice. Withholding evidence that supports a defendant’s innocence contradicts that goal.